Unpublished poll on the feeling on the evolution of the European sentiment by European civil servants
A survey done for the “Call to Europe” conference organized in Brussels by FEPS on 29 and 30 June shows that almost one in two European civil servants think that European integration is evolving negatively and nearly 90% of them are of the opinion that the political authorities must take their responsibility. These officials seem to have limited confidence in their own ranks, however, since in their opinion, it is up to the Member States to stimulate allegiance to Europe, ahead of their own institutions that they assign to the second position.
”European civil servants seem to consider that European power is in the hands of the Member States -- this prevalence reveals an element of weakness of European institutions that are supposed to assume this role" declared Massimo d'Alema, former Italian prime minister and president of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) that ordered the survey.
The Member State governments (84%), ahead of the European institutions (73%) have the role of fanning the European flame -- this is essentially the conclusion of the survey done in June with 231 civil servants by the Belgian survey company Dedicated.be. Conversely, European civil servants are very comprehensive with regard to citizens (33%) – this shows systematically in the survey.
This decline in European sentiment and consequently the lack of leadership in this field, could entail several risks according to European civil servants: reinforcement of nationalism (82%), slowing down of the European integration process (78%), losing (further) ground on the global scene (60%), continuation of the recession (56%), and even further difficulties in implementing the possibilities provided by the Lisbon Treaty (50%).
This uneasiness is confirmed when only one in five civil servants feel that the EU 2020 strategy has a greater chance of success than the Lisbon Strategy. Hardly more (30%) consider that "giving priority to austerity plans will cure the European ills in the medium and long term". But no one seems naïve: 62% of the civil servants surveyed consider that the Commission pursues a liberal policy.
Brussels is not as isolated as one might think
Contrary to preconceived ideas, European civil servants are not disconnected from reality. Evidence of this: employment, which comes in the first position, followed in third and fourth position by economics and social issues, are among the various policies proposed to rekindle European drive. They also consider that the decline in attachment to Europe is explained by the development of nationalism (51%), the absence of European projects clearly understood by citizens (47%), loss of confidence in politics (46%), economic recession (44%), and enlargement of the EU (42%), to list the five most frequent responses
Finally foreign policy comes in second position among priority actions, although the civil servants feel doubtful about the new External Action Service (32%). However, there is no doubt about the effectiveness of the action if it is initiated. The civil servants feel that the EU would be stronger if it adopted common positions on international conflicts such as the recent events in North Africa (82%), where, we recall, Europe not only came out divided, it then sent a negative message by refusing to accept migrants fleeing Tunisia.
This survey was done in June with 231 civil servants by the Belgian survey institute Dedicated.be. It was ordered by FEPS in the context of the Call to Europe conference that will bring together more than 50 experts on 29 and 30 June in Brussels on a central question: "If we do not have a united Europe nowadays, would there be any reason to bother creating it?
For more information on the conference Call to Europe
Beyond the survey for any question, contact Alain Bloëdt, FEPS Communication Advisor